Oculus, which Facebook acquired last year for almost $2 billion, debuted a 10-minute virtual reality film this week.
The narrative experience focuses on a lonely hedgehog called Henry. Those at the invite-only event were offered a 360° glimpse into Henry’s home where he birthday wish comes to life.
Those wearing a VR headset are able to look around and experience the world of the film in a different way. Henry is even able to look directly at the viewer during the experience. Henry director, Ramiro Lopez Dau said, “In the case of Henry, it’s more about the character. We use those moments when he’s happy or sad to look at you no matter where you’re standing.”
This is the second film from Oculus Story Studio, Oculus’ internal production company that was created after Facebook acquired the company last year.
Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, said that Henry and other short films aren’t supposed to be “an introduction to virtual reality.” Instead, he says, “We’re trying to build things with Oculus Story Studio that other people can learn from and build better content from as a result.”
Oculus may not be trying to compete with Hollywood just yet, but Luckey wants the company to showcase what VR is capable of. “In a perfect word, we’ll have all the major studios making tons of VR content because they’re making tons of money off of it,” he explained.
We have tried a cinema experience using Oculus Rift, and it’s quite novel. It’s interesting to be able to look around what is essentially a film set and can be used to offer different viewers a different perspective on a given scene or short film. Of course, these opportunities result in their own challenges for creators, but that’s one of the things that makes this industry unpredictable and exciting.
Henry, and other unspecified games and movies, will be bundled with the Oculus Rift. Oculus is yet to reveal how much the system will cost.